On communication

Any time I deal with customers I do my best to communicate with them as much as possible. Especially given the nature of the way we communicate in Second Life (as much as we dress it up, it is still generally a text chat system with fancy graphics) I think it's vital that, at every turn, you let someone you're dealing with know what's happening and why it's happening.

Just the other day I had a customer send me a notecard while I was offline. Of course, I didn't know what the content of the notecard was, but I had a vague idea what it might be about given the name of it. I immediately replied to them (an email reply to the email notification, which is normally turned back into an in-world IM) to let them know I was aware that they'd sent me the card and that I should be able to log in within the next couple of hours to look at it and deal with the issue.

Sure enough I was in-world a couple of hours later. I accepted the notecard, had a quick read of it, and then sent them an IM to say hello and let them know I was available. Long story short, I popped over to their home, where they had my product installed, checked the problem, realised what they were missing (in this case they didn't know about the need for a relay for non-attached RLV items to work) and got them all sorted out.

They were very appreciative of the help (sadly, they seemed surprised that they'd get this level of help and attention -- it seems that too many people are too used to store owners being hands-off and unavailable) and I left them as a very happy customer.

For me, the important part was that I let them know what I was doing, and why I was doing it, at every turn of the conversation. From my initial reply, right up to explaining that there'd be a pause in our conversation because I needed to check something for them, I made sure they never felt left in the dark.

I do wish everyone operated this way.

In the past couple of weeks I've had a sim owner make changes to my presence in their mall with no word of explanation whatsoever. In both cases an action was taken that, without explanation, looks very negative and very targeted -- even more so given that the mall in question has a mall manager who, it seems, also wasn't informed of these actions. In the first case, once I'd taken the trouble to go and ask what was happening, I received an explanation that was reasonable enough, but what a shame that the explanation didn't come first. A "Hi, Antony, sorry about this but I'm about to do this thing and I'm about to do it for this reason..." would have had the whole thing make sense and appear reasonable. Without warning or explanation it gives a very different initial impression.

Again, today, the sim owner made a change to my presence in their mall with no warning and no subsequent explanation (and, I imagine, no knowledge on the part of the mall manager). In this case it was the return of an object to my lost and found folder; an object that the mall manager had invited me to place there for everyone's benefit a few months ago. I logged in a few moments later to ask if it was a deliberate return (accidents do happen after all), only to find they'd logged off.

The impression I'm left with is anything but positive. While I firmly believe that a sim owner's wishes are paramount, it never hurts to properly communicate those wishes. Not doing so can give entirely the wrong impression and damage trust.

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